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Help planning new squirrel-proof strawberry bed

8 years ago

Well, the squirrels won this year. No matter how tightly I tried to stake the netting down over the bed, they seemed to get in. Even trapping them and keeping 1 there all day as an "example" didn't seem to work. They're now avoiding the peanut-butter-baited trap.

Since I planted this bed in 2012 and got a small harvest last year (even smaller this year - as in a few pints for 100sf), it might be time to move the bed. I started to extend it lengthwise last fall, that probably isn't going to work, but the runners from the original bed have crept into the outside row of the veggie garden. The squirrels have gotten what few berries were there too, but I think it might be easier to secure that row than the bed on top of the stone wall.

Here's the plan - suggestions for improvement welcome!

Outside row (south side) of veggie garden has permanently installed T posts we attach deer netting to each year. My plan is to install chicken wire to the bottom of the posts and bury the edge - how deep is deep enough? Then we can continue to put up the netting each year (don't leave it over the winter, so we can get a few years out of it). Since I don't know if we can make a squirrel-proof gate, and they'd probably climb over anyway. what I want to do is also make a low (1ft tall?) chicken wire wall (edge buried) on the inside of the strawberry row only, and a hinged lid that attaches to the fence and can be lifted and held up with a few carabiner clips to harvest. Will probably mean stakes along each side of the row to support a 1x2 lip for the lid (also 1x2s covered with wire or netting) and hinges. I don't know how long to make each section - 50 ft or so of row, though I know lumber is sold in 8ft lengths I have a short bed pickup. Could get them home but also 8ft length is a long lid to support, so I'm thinking 4-5ft (evenly divided, have to measure row - actually right now it's 1 long row and 1 short since we expanded the garden a few years ago, I have 1 N-S aisle and multiple E-W aisles in the garden).

I also have new raised beds along the east side of a new high tunnel this year, just started planting dwarf tomatoes (in south 12ft only, still have 48ft left), that might be a good place for berries? The plastic will be up in March or April each year (not over winter) so plenty early for strawberries - I would expect that I could have berries in May if I put them in there. I just hate to give up the real estate to such a short-harvest perennial crop. And I'd still have to put a lid on them/net them if I wanted to roll up the sides to vent - though it would be easier to put a lid on the wooden beds - I'd just have to remove some of the soil since we filled them to the top. I'm wondering if wire hoops and netting would be easier to secure (make the ends out of chicken wire?) on the raised beds?

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